Driving is something that needs to be taken extremely seriously, regardless of where you come from or where you live. No matter the streets you occupy, in order to keep those roads a safe place for everyone who uses them, it is important to contribute to a safe driving culture. You have the power to ensure the rules of the road are enforced in every trip you take.
Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, although you may not realize it, you are accepting a huge responsibility. You are capable of ruining someone’s life and the lives of their family in a matter of seconds if you are not careful. On the other hand, you can safely and smoothly get to your next destination with little to no consequence, so long as you are careful and aware of the rules of the road.
To contribute to a safe and productive driving culture, we have compiled this ultimate guide to everything you need to know about being a safe driver right here in Western Australia!
Licenses and Requirements
Those driving in Australia are required to be in possession of a valid driver’s licence. Drivers may use a foreign license for three months, so long as it is an English language licence. For any time longer than three months, a driver will need to obtain a license from an Australian state. If the licence you already possess is not in English, you are required to obtain an international driving permit. You may do this at the Automobile Association in your country of residence before visiting Australia.
Take Driving Seriously
The first step to preventing any incidents on the road is to take driving seriously. When you get in the car, all you might be thinking about is getting to your next destination—but driving truly is something much larger than that. You are operating some heavy, dangerous machinery and hold a lot of power in the wheel between your hands. Don’t shirk your responsibility to be a good and safe driver. Take it seriously.
How do you make sure you are treating driving with the respect and level of seriousness it requires? Before you get behind the wheel of a car, ask yourself, “Am I in a safe state to be driving right now?” If there is any level of doubt, then it is best to arrange other methods of transportation to get to your destination.
Safety Starts Before You Get Behind the Wheel
While you probably don’t really think about it this way, safety starts long before you get behind the wheel. It’s essential to make sure that you are in a safe condition to drive before assuming the responsibility of operating a vehicle.
This includes making sure that you can drive uninterrupted for the period of time you are operating the vehicle, and that you are in a fit state to do so. This means you must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you get behind the wheel.
The blood alcohol limit throughout Australia is 0.05%, while the limit for drivers with provisional licenses and those who are still learning is zero. The police reserve the right to conduct random drug and alcohol testing.
Any driver caught operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be subject to the consequences of the law. A first offender may expect to pay a fine and experience a period of suspension from driving. Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offence in Australia. The fine will be determined by the court and depends on the reading of the test. Refusing to take a random breath test is also considered an offense and comes with similar penalties of being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
All occupants of the vehicle are required to wear seat belts at all times that the vehicle is in motion. Children and babies are required to be restrained in a safety harness, booster seat, or capsule that has been approved. In some states, this requirement continues up until 7 years of age. Some seat belt laws may be strictly enforced, and the responsibility falls on the driver to ensure that all passengers have buckled up. Any passengers of the age of 16 or older caught not wearing a seat belt will also be fined, along with the driver.
Put All Distractions Away
Cell phones, food, makeup—whatever else you’re trying to do while navigating the roads, it can wait. This includes matters of your mind. If you’re trying to work out a complicated or troubling issue in your mind and it’s distracting you from what’s happening on the road, then put it out of your mind until you reach your destination.
If something that’s distracting you from being a good driver truly cannot wait, then it’s best to pull over. Send that text, finish your meal, work out whatever is bothering you in your head. Just do it safely on the side of the road. Sometimes these distractions may seem harmless. But in the event of an accident, it will not take you long to understand the gravity of your actions. It’s best to avoid this realization altogether, however, and practice safe driving by removing yourself from any and all distractions while behind the wheel.
Be a Defensive Driver
Being a defensive driver is the best way to avoid incidents on the road. This involves being vigilant and aware at all times. It’s essential to make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings constantly while on the road. You want to avoid an incident before it happens. Don’t be confrontational or allow your anger to rule your decisions while on the road. Chasing after a car that honks at you or cuts you off is only asking for an accident!
While driving, be mindful of the posted speed limit. You should never drive faster than the speed limit, as this is an unsafe speed for that area. You can find the speed limit posted on signs. In areas where there is no speed limit, you may follow the “default” speed limit.
In a “built-up” area, the default speed is 50 km/h unless posted otherwise. This applies to areas where there are street lights at intervals of less than 100 metres for a minimum of 500 metres. These can include areas built up with structures devoted to industry, businesses, or residences in intervals of under 100 metres for 500 metres or more.
Outside of these “built-up” areas, the default speed limit rises to 110km/h. The places where this speed limit comes into effect may be marked on signs such as a speed limit sign with the word “end” on it, or “derestriction” signs.
Drivers and vehicles that may not exceed 100km/h include learning drivers, vehicles towing trailers or caravans, coaches and busses over 5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass, and Vehicles with a Gross Combined Mass over 12 tonnes.
It’s important to keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to be able to stop safely in the event of an emergency. Most rear end collisions result from drivers not leaving enough space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. As a result, it’s a good idea to follow the ‘Two Second’ Rule. This dictates you should leave two seconds worth of time between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.
It’s also important for you to know how long it takes for your vehicle to stop to adjust this distance as needed. For example, you may need more time to stop your vehicle if it is a heavier model, you are going very fast, or if weather conditions are not ideal. Account for this when driving and don’t be afraid to increase your following distance!
Consider Driving Conditions
Take the driving conditions outside into account and adjust your driving practices accordingly! The most common adverse conditions you’ll encounter in Western Australia include darkness at night time, rain, and fog.
If the conditions outside are so bad that you think it may severely affect your ability to drive, then it’s best not to get behind the wheel at all. However, if you are going to drive, take into account things like how your stopping time will be affected, how much time you need to reach your destination so you are not rushed, and other similar factors.
Watch out for Cyclists!
Remember, you and other drivers are not the only ones on the road. Make way for cyclists and understand how they fit into the equation when it comes to sharing the road. Doing so will help you to avoid any issues or collisions. It can even help you to navigate the roads safely if you ever choose to be a cyclist yourself!
Western Australia vs. The Rest of the World
How does driving in Western Australia differ from places elsewhere in the world? Well, if you are visiting Australia and plan on driving, here are a few things you should be prepared to know before getting behind the wheel of a car!
Australian drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road. In addition, they use the metric system. This will affect drivers in terms of speeds and distances. The posted speed limit signs will be displayed in km/h and distances will be denoted in kms.
Australia is a sizeable country and is home to a highly urban population. Approximately 24 million residents (and drivers) are clustered along its coast. As a result, you’ll encounter many different types of roads in the network. Expect various types of roads, surfaces, and provisions of services depending on where you are and where you are headed. Be prepared for long distances from one town to the next without running into food, water, or fuel.
Vehicles in Australia are right-hand drive cars. Automatic transmissions are popular, but manuals (or stick shift vehicles) are available. The gear shift will be positioned by the left hand and is typically found on the floor. Those accustomed to driving on the right are advised to drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission to minimise the adjustment period. The park brake tends to be a hand-operated lever located in the vehicle’s centre.
Whether you call Western Australia home, or if you are visiting from a foreign country and ready to learn what it is that makes this area so great, driving can be a challenge at times. It’s essential, no matter who you are or where you come from, to take driving seriously and heed the rules of the road for a safe driving experience.
For those who are new to driving in Western Australia, do your research on what makes driving in this area different than the places and roads that you are accustomed to navigating. No matter who you are, make sure to stay updated on the rules of the road and be vigilant at all times when you’re behind the wheel! By doing these simple things, you can prevent accidents and make sure you’re not involved in any dangerous incidents. With that, everyone can get to where they are meant to go safely and without a hitch. Then you can get back to enjoying all the beauty, excitement, and fun that Western Australia has to offer!
Now that you know how to drive safely in Western Australia, all that you need is a car to allow you to do so! Find car hire in Perth, Malaga, Greenwood and Redcliffe and start exploring this stunning location! There is so much that places like Perth, Malaga, Greenwood and Redcliffe have to offer, so hit the road today and start making the most of your time in Western Australia!